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Driver falls asleep on railroad tracks, car cut in half

A Pacoima motorist who fell asleep behind the wheel while stopped on railroad tracks Thursday survived after a Union Pacific cargo train struck and severed his vehicle in half.

The collision occurred at 1:15 a.m. at the train track crossing on San Fernando Road and Branford Street in Pacoima.

The driver, an elderly man, walked away without any injuries and was arrested on site on suspicion of drunk driving, said Sgt. Dave Mascarenas of the Los Angeles Police Department Valley Traffic division.

The man drove his Hyundai Sonata past the caution arm of the train tracks and a 59-car train struck the front of the car, ripping it in half and causing the rear half with the driver inside to spin 180 degrees, Mascarenas said.

The force of the accident caused the tracks underneath the train to bend and buckle all the way to its destination in Sylmar, he said.

“Because of the percussion, it caused a wave of force to be generated and as the train moved, it bent the tracks,” Mascarenas said.

Without the shovel-like plow at the front of the train, the outcome could have been much worse, authorities said.

“It was designed to mitigate damage and it worked,” Mascarenas said. “It cut the car in half but saved his life.”


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Comments () | Archives (3)

Drunk or not, why would someone go past the caution arms just far enough to stop on the tracks?

Another "elderly" driver who shouldn't be on the road. And who will pay to repair the train tracks? Taxpayers, most likely.

Those too senile to safely drive a car should have their licenses revoked. By all means, give them free passes on public transportation. Cheaper than paying for their accidents.

If a driver is drunk enough, he is more likely to commit reckless acts (such as crossing right in front of a train) or fall asleep while driving. Given that his car was severed, I think the elderly driver's lucky to be alive. Unfortunately, many people often feel that it’s still safe to drive while sleepy or exhausted but the reality is, drowsy or fatigued driving is a lot like drunk driving. Being awake for more than 18 hours is equivalent to an impairment of having a blood alcohol content of .05 percent, and .10 if you stay up for 24 hours.



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